I was reading an article today on '4 reasons you can't brainstorm creative ideas and what you should do instead'. It presented some arguments with good references to research that backed those up. I was quite surprised by the bold statement that 'Brainstorming is bad' when it comes to creativity, however, reading through it made sense based on some of my experiences.
How many times do we put learners in a situation where, they are challenged with thinking about problems and creating solutions on the spot in that given moment? In fact, how many times do we do this in everyday meetings?
According to the article, in research published in the Harvard Business Review, Teresa Amabile, a Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, showed that pressure is almost always terrible for creative thinking. Whilst the article does point out that time-pressure can work by being a spur that leads to the eureka moment, it made it clear that this rarely occurs in a brainstorming setting. This is due to other factors in the environment such as uncritical thinking, overwhelming characters and group think. The article goes on to say that 'Stuffing people in a room and tell them ‘Go!’ is really the worst thing for original thought'. The suggestion is that instead, it is wiser to give people as much warning and time to prepare as possible; a heads up and a chance to plan.
Perhaps this is something we should include in our invitations to meetings or sessions where brainstorming is involved. Rather than leave the session as a surprise and see what comes out, perhaps there is mileage in saying to people, 'In our session, we are going to talk about ideas to solve x. Between now and then, have a think through and write down some ideas to bring with you'.
What's your experience of brainstorming? Does it work or have there been times where you've been locked in a room for hours without coming out with any real substance? Is brainstorming as bad as this article suggests?